Co8 New Content: Hickory Branch

Discussion in 'New Content Subdirectories' started by Gaear, Mar 22, 2010.

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  1. Daryk

    Daryk Veteran Member

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    Challenge accepted! As long as Armario is still selling arrows in lots of 360, I think I'll be OK, even if there aren't several hundred arrows to loot in the new HB...
     
  2. Kapacha2089

    Kapacha2089 Member

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    Re: Co8 New Content: Hickory Branch

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thanks for the feedback.

    [SPOILERS BELOW. DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY PLAYED THE NEW HB UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED]


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ben
    Dialogue with the ranger has a couple of spelling mistakes in it (I recall waot instead of wait for example) and could use a branch or two to break it up, but works fine. I used intimidate in case it is important for the following bug. On trying to travel straight to HB from the random area, it caused a crash every time. I rebooted and reloaded multiple times and got the same result. Only if I went to Hommlet first did it then work normally.

    I think Kapacha2089 reported that as well - must be something buggy there.

    I am using a Windows 8 OS PC w/a 19" widescreen. And I am aware everyone has varying pc systems.
    For 7.9, I was using 1240 x 1024, but it keep CTD whenever I accepted the HB quest. I tried 800 X 600, but it was too small. I switched to 1440 X 900 resolution, and it has yet to CTD.


    Quote:
    The next combat on the other hand (with the runes) is a great challenge and lots of fun. I think the only improvement that crossed my mind is whether it is possible to post the message regarding the runes in the dice box, or pop it up a bit slower, as it's hard to see what it says. Does killing all the shaman and theurgists stop it by the way? I couldn't tell (maybe a visual cue on them?)

    I don't think we can put anything in the dice box, and we can't control the speed of the floatlines. I figure you'll get hit with enough of those things to read them eventually. The runes are controlled by various troops who don't advertise that they have the triggers, so nothing so simple as killing the clerics will stop it. (Hungous is now a master strategist as well as a badass. )

    I'm interested in knowing how players deal with that tactic btw ... did you move in or away?

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER , DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE 7.9.0 NC REVISED HICKORY BRANCH!!!
    "...my first attempt I went headstrong into the fight going full MELEE and it was a doozy!! And I asked for it!! And, YES, I had to retreat because the party did not anticipate the ranged "RUNES" tactic. I did return for the 2nd attempt but cautiously approached it at a distanced by using an array of Conjuration & AOE spells and a boatload of arrows... And the party finally finished them off.

    If anyone wants to know I documented the entire HB scenario by listing all the monsters and their treasure from each encounter. As you will know playing it over and over, the monsters & NPCs hit points will vary.
     
  3. phlippy g

    phlippy g Member

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    Maybe make the clerics spe. in healing and counter spelling. Even if the commander can't understand. Those clerics would.
     
  4. Sitra Achara

    Sitra Achara Senior Member

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    Spoiler:

    Is there supposed to be a way out of the pit?
     
  5. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    You can't walk out, but have a look in the chest ...
     
  6. BenWH

    BenWH BGPHughes

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    EXTENSIVE SPOILERS

    Some additional extensive feedback on Hickory Branch, including some bugs and setup suggestions.

    This time around I was playing a very sub-optimal party (essentially a fighter party; four fighters, a ranger and a paladin), levels 12-14 on entry, no crafting.
    Overall I found the challenge level to be really good - obviously quite taxing because of my choice of characters, but a really enjoyable section of the game and kudos to everyone involved in its development. I'd like to thank you all. The following will hopefully help you to complete the intention of what you set out to do here.

    First the BUGS

    • There are several instances where you can click on a character and restart the conversation by mistake - the ranger in the random area, most of the leaders, etc. Mostly this is just a nuisance, but it may contribute to the next issue.
    • I managed to get two parallel version of the rumour up and running, ending up with one saying 9 of 9, and one saying 1 of 9. This could have occurred in a number of places, but I believe it was caused by one of two occurences:
    • On entering Hungous' cave, the delay for him to appear and talk is a little too long, and as a result I struck up a repeat conversation with one of his sub-leaders. I think this may have been the most likely cause of the 'double-rumour'.
    • The other oddity was on exiting the cave, I still had Ergo and Ruff to deal with - but there were two instances of Ruff for the first round of combat - one invisible (as in not visible on screen, rather than under the spell), but able to execute attacks of opportunity. This instance disappeared at the end of the round, and never took a turn itself.
    • On returning to Bethany, I could not complete the quest, as she was obviously using the variable attached to the 1 of 9, as this occured last, rather than the earlier 9 of 9 entry.
    • All of the bows and several weapons dropped in HB are lacking their descriptions, and for what it is worth, the +2 sabres are pre-identified.
    • Inside the cave, one of the orcs (a Rundor I think) is standing in the fire, and it kills him.

    EXPLOITS AND ENGINE ISSUES
    I encountered two issues with the rune fight due to the engine restriction of how many active monsters it can handle.
    1. The first more minor issue is that any summon dropped into the middle of the enemies does nothing except AoOs, thus rendering my Glabezru nothing better than a glorified spotter. This therefore requires the player to kill a large number of enemies before he summons anything. Not sure how to get around this, but I think it needs some kind of solution, which I suggest later in the post, as summoning as a tactic is somewhat invalidated.
    2. The second knock-on effect of this engine problem, is that you can launch this combat, but if you then retreat from it, you can't end it. The most serious side effect of this is you can go to a different area (like the gnolls or bugbears) and kill them all without any of them reacting. Obviously I had the self control not to clean out the whole area, but I did want to find a way around the rune field, so this is likely to become a common exploit, and probably not what you desire!

    Overall the updated HB plays out well with no major issues. The most interesting combat, but the most problematic is the Rune Fight, and this is where I would look at some modifications:

    Modifications to the Rune Fight
    • First up, the runes themselves have some frustrations. Ideally they would have some sort of visual clue as to their limits. The only way to find the perimeter is by 5 foot stepping until you take damage, which is a bit frustrating. This is almost inevitable, because you will fight at least part of this battle at range, and need to get close enough to shoot your targets (which, if you are not aware, you can do even if you cannot see them, by clicking on their portraits during full attack actions - this means you don't even require to have a spotter standing in the rune field).
    • The damage type of the runes declares itself as Force damage, but fire protection seemed to help. I would make the damage fire anyway as rings to resist a bit are plentiful, and at the beginning of the battle, the runes go off so many times in quick succession, that I usually find 3-4 characters are dead before they can react. The alternative is to reduce the damage dealt a bit, for the same reason. Add in the fact it's a bit hard to read the messages, and many first-timers will lose the whole party before they have a chance to move.
    • I like the fact that injured melee types charge forward, but I think after 20-30 rounds of combat, the frontline should all charge forward together. If the combat is not over by this time, then the player has settled into a strategy which will most likely involve standing off and using spells and arrows - or a complete retreat. A change in behaviour by the troops would seriously have embarassed my forward spotter standing in a fog cloud with a protection from fire potion on him! In addition, this would foil the 'shoot in the dark' exploit from killing all the melee fighters without harm and it would also free up the space in the roster for new monsters and summons, so if the player had retreated completely (say to kill all the gnolls) he would suddenly find a pack of troops in his rear who were definitely active.

    I think if you do make one change, this one above would add the most.

    Other comments:
    I did find the 'pop-up' enemies a little unconvincing at times, particularly the ettins by the gate, who appear out of no cover at all, but also some of the orc archer types. Could a few more of these be rogue types with a listen or spot check attached? I couldn't tell if this was in play or not. It would be great also if the stone giants could use the earth elemental entry animations (with the exploding rocks) to make their 'ambushes' more convincing.
     
  7. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    SPOILERS BELOW - HIGHLIGHT

    Thanks, I'll check into bulletproofing that.

    Might be the first Ruff failing to run off properly, like Noblig used to do.

    That's intentional - Hungous explains it in his dilaogue.

    That's unfortunate, but the intention was indeed partly to overwhelm you. We're not going to scrap the whole routine because the engine can't always deal with the fallout.

    See, it evens out. ;)

    "Ideally" is key - this situation is not ideal! Enemies don't usually declare their tactics and secrets. :) All cuteness aside, I'm not really worried about player disadvantages, since players generally have overwhelming advantages.

    The runes are actually RAW(ish), and the mechanic for them is internal, so I don't really want to attempt to alter that. Ditto on the lack of rings - tough luck. ;) Actually what I really hoped to achieve there was to force players into the front ranks, where the rear rank giants would take advantage of reach while being shielded by the front ranks. e.g. they would use tactics, something most ToEE enemies don't really do. The countermeasures are interesting and fun to observe though, and that's what compelling combat is really all about.

    It would be easy enough to get them to charge on a counter, but the problem is that counters alone don't really account for circumstances. e.g. if things were really going their way based on their current tactics, why would they change them? It's hard enough to get enemies to behave with any sense at all. As for getting them to pursue, that's really tough. Generally what they're really doing when they move is simply going to a predefined location. (e.g., the ravine troops will move to cut you off on the route you seem to be taking if combat somehow ends. They can't change standpoints during combat.)

    They're all simply concealed, with their accompanying behavior being ToEE-RAW, so I assume they can be detected. Their hiding may seem somewhat unconvincing in execution, but the way I look at it is why would they all just stand there waiting for you? (That's normal ToEE behavior, lol.) The ettins at the gate, like the giants ahead of the ravine ranks, are presumably nominally buried in that they come out of the ground. I figure that's the only way for a giant to hide. The gate ettins are scripted a bit differently though so they couldn't have the particle effects, but I thought they were obscured behind the wall anyway. What they want is for you to have to run the gauntlet. Again, tactics! :p

    ~

    Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated. :thumbsup: Apologies if I seem like I'm being snarky (that's not intentional), but enough planning and effort went into this that I'll defend my choices with some spirit, lol. But that doesn't mean I can't be persuaded of anything, so keep the feedback/dialogue coming.
     
  8. BenWH

    BenWH BGPHughes

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    No offense taken - it's your baby after all. I just think on the rune fight your work is very easy to circumvent/exploit because of the engine issues. I'd actually love to have the big fight with the front ranks, but the combination of the lethality of the runes (you can't get out of them quickly enough if you go forwards) and the limitations of the engine, make a retreat much more sensible, then those rankers become so much canon fodder - which is a bit of a shame! I actually took to trying to damage several at once so that the charges had a bit of threat to them. The ones that come in from behind are a lot of fun for keeping things interesting.

    Good to know the ambushers are normally concealed - I hadn't realised that as I couldn't see any checks. My party of fighters are not much good for anything else, but I do have pretty enormous spot!
     
  9. Sitra Achara

    Sitra Achara Senior Member

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    FWIW, when I took on HB, I scouted the map with my invisible Rogue, went into the Minotaur cave, and then when I exited, my party emerged from behind them. It wasn't intended, but it looks like the scripting didn't anticipate such a thing :doh:
     
  10. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    You mean your entire party joined your rogue outside the crypt? Heh, silly ToEE. ;)

    Should be able to make it in a turn, shouldn't you?

    You mean by using the fire-at-portrait exploit (or just lobbing fireballs into the black)? Otherwise I don't think you can see them from the right-hand border of the blast field.

    Did your rogue happen to ... overhear anything? :p
     
  11. Sitra Achara

    Sitra Achara Senior Member

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    Well, in a sense - when I peeked inside the files ;) It's a nice touch.

    But it has a weakness - the heartbeat rate depends on distance to the PC. So unless the PC is sneaking (↔moving slowly by), you can miss it ingame, as I did (but then again I was running around with speedup factor 4).

    If you're interested, here's a more deterministic alternative:
    Code:
    pad5 = attachee.obj_get_int(obj_f_npc_pad_i_5)
    current_time = game.time.time_game_in_seconds(game.time)
    if (not npc_get(attachee,3)) and current_time > pad5:
    	pad5 = current_time + game.random_range(6, 11)
    	attachee.obj_set_int( obj_f_npc_pad_i_5, pad5 )
    	comment = game.random_range(0,9)
    	if (comment == 0):
    		attachee.float_line(10000,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 1):
    		attachee.float_line(10001,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 2):
    		attachee.float_line(10002,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 3):
    		attachee.float_line(10003,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 4):
    		attachee.float_line(10004,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 5):
    		attachee.float_line(10005,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 6):
    		attachee.float_line(10006,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 7):
    		attachee.float_line(10007,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 8):
    		attachee.float_line(10008,triggerer)
    	if (comment == 9):
    		attachee.float_line(10009,triggerer)
    
     
  12. blakdeth

    blakdeth Member

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    Great new content, guys!

    In the rune battle I really had a bugger of a time first run through, especially when a stone giant got free and hammered my two leading PCs.

    My solution was an invisible rogue (using ring of invisibilty) with a wand of fireballs, which apparently doesn't cancel the invisibility when used, though changing your equipped items will.
    I sent her around the back of the line in advance of the main party, then set her up on the bridge to the north of the baddies' line.

    Then spellcasters lobbed fireballs and ice storms into the rune chuckers and archers using the rogue as a spotter, while the two rangers and two clerics handled the giants, etc. who ran up to us.

    You can limit your exposure this way while maximizing your firepower.
    Divide and conquer.

    The cavern battle, though, was a real tough slog.
    The 'ready vs spell' types were pretty brutal.
    you gotta concentrate on them as fast as possible after dealing with the close in group at start to stand any kind of a chance.

    Again, well done, and nicely challenging without resorting to lots of magic resistance (which I find makes a boring and frustrating fight, since they tend to make 28% resistance saves about 90 percent of the time: mathematically WRONG dammit!).

    That's one of the main reasons I like this game so much and why it has such replay value: the 'tactical challenge' fights make it all worthwhile.
    Just easy enough to be do-able, but hard enough that you have to really think to make it through without having to raise dead a lot.
    I can't count the times I've almost finished a battle with some good luck and pretty decent planning, only to have one NPCs great cleave rend two or three PCs all in one round.
     
  13. twisty

    twisty Morose Marauder

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    I LOVE the new HB content. Definitely worth the wait.

    The rune battle is one of the highlights of the entire game imo and offers tonnes of re-playability. I failed at least the first 3-4 attempts but won on my next in part because of a bug that occurred that allowed me to have two turns each round with my wizard. I think that it may have something to do with the archers ready vs spell as that condition kept coming up when it was their turn for some reason but after they finished it would go back to being my wizard's turn again.

    The Minotaur seemed much easier this time though. I seem to recall that he used to have a much higher spell resistance?
     
  14. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    I don't think we touched the minotaur at all, beyond giving him dialogue and a name.
     
  15. BenWH

    BenWH BGPHughes

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    My experience was that you can't get out going forward because the front rankers block your way so you end up fighting and exploding at the same time - I didn't try it twice after that experience!
     
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